Here's why Windows Subsystem for Android got killed off, according to a 29-year Microsoft veteran

Amazon Appstore no longer appears in Microsoft Store
The Amazon Appstore has already been removed from the Microsoft Store. (Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft announced the deprecation of Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) recently.
  • Support for WSA will end on March 5, 2025, but Amazon has already stopped downloads of the Amazon Appstore from the Microsoft Store.
  • Andrew Clinick, who worked for Microsoft for almost 30 years, shared insight as to why WSA was shut down.

Microsoft announced that Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) will no longer be supported after March 2025. The abrupt announcement marks the end of one of the easiest ways to run Android apps on Windows. But while WSA made it easy to install Android apps onto a PC, it had limitations, such as its lack of Google Play services support. Andrew Clinick, who worked for Microsoft for over 29 years, recently shared insight as to why WSA failed.

In almost three decades at Microsoft, Clinic spent over two years as Partner Group Program Manager of WSA. He "led the product team delivering the ability to run Android applications on Windows," as explained in his LinkedIn profile.

"This involved product definition internally but also with Amazon Store to deliver a store experience that integrated seamlessly with Windows and for the android applications to feel like native Windows applications. Grew the user base by >1000% in the first 3 months and helped Amazon bring 10's of thousands of android apps to Windows users," outlined Clinick.

More recently, he worked at Microsoft as Partner Group Program Manager of Windows AI Plugins and Partner Group Program Manager focusing on the developer program for Windows.

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Clinick shared across several X (formerly Twitter) posts that WSA struggled to make money and that the lack of Google Play services support hurt the platform.

Clinick went as far to say that Google walking away was the nail in the coffin for WSA.

Microsoft and developers

Amazon Appstore set up

Amazon has already stopped downloads of the Amazon Appstore through the Microsoft Store. (Image credit: Future)

The reason for Microsoft ending support for WSA shouldn't come as a surprise. "Store revenue pays the bills and salaries of the wsa team," explained Clinick. "WSL acrues to azure and vs so has a profit center. WSA without a store is awesome but doesn't help windows financially," said Clinick.

He echoed a sentiment that myself and others have said, that WSA is impressive but not viable financially. Given his work experience, I suspect Clinick understands that fact better than anyone.

When one X user asked why Microsoft partnered with Amazon rather than have Android apps directly in the Microsoft Store, Clinick pointed to the difficulty of getting apps into a store. "Turns out standing up a store and attracting apps is mighty difficult," said Clinick.

READ MORE: Amazon Appstore already removed from Microsoft Store

He also highlighted how much the lack of Google Play services affected Android apps on Windows. "Then you factor in that Google play services isn't there. Difficult to find an app with a large audience that doesn't use Google play services," Clinick said.

In a separate post, the former Microsoft employee discussed Google Play services again, stating, "No Google play services. Can't work around that really in a way that isn't hackastic."

This is a familiar story to those who have followed Microsoft and Windows news over the years. Microsoft has released several platforms and devices over the years only to have a lack of developer support and monetization block long-term viability.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

  • GraniteStateColin
    I don't understand. The article quotes: "'...WSA without a store is awesome but doesn't help windows financially,' said Clinick."

    But it had a store, the Amazon store. Does this mean that Amazon pulled support of the store from Windows first, leaving WSA without a store, or that the Amazon store was not generating enough revenue for MS and so they decided it wasn't worth continuing to pay Amazon and provide internal support to maintain it? I suspect he must have meant the latter, but if so, then why say "WSA without a store..."?

    Seems like saying, "We cancelled making cars because cars without steering wheels aren't useful." While the market is thinking, yes, but your car has a steering wheel...
    Reply
  • GraniteStateColin
    Sadly, like so many decisions made in isolation by MS, this also means a few of our systems that were running Windows and tied into the MS ecosystem only because they could double as testbeds for Android apps will now be replaced by Linux boxes (some of our devs prefer Linux but were willing to use Windows with WSL because of WSA). This in turn reduces interest in other MS products and weakens the ecosystem.

    I'm not saying specifically that MS should have kept WSA -- maybe this really was a waste of money and effort, but I don't understand how MS can repeatedly be so blind to the synergistic value of providing broad options of support for its OS users. Looking at a profit center of a single offering in isolation is largely meaningless. When you remove legs from the table, eventually it collapses, even if some of them, on their own, weren't carrying any weight.

    Even their huge success with AI is limited to a subset of the full users they would have had if they had not dropped mobile and Cortana. Every time they drop something, they weaken their influence in all other related areas that intersect with it in some way. Sometimes, that's undoubtedly worth it (you can't keep spending billions on something with no return). But I see no evidence that MS even considers these broader effects, the spiderweb of consequences to cutting threads.
    Reply
  • fjtorres5591
    GraniteStateColin said:
    I don't understand. The article quotes: "'...WSA without a store is awesome but doesn't help windows financially,' said Clinick."

    But it had a store, the Amazon store. Does this mean that Amazon pulled support of the store from Windows first, leaving WSA without a store, or that the Amazon store was not generating enough revenue for MS and so they decided it wasn't worth continuing to pay Amazon and provide internal support to maintain it? I suspect he must have meant the latter, but if so, then why say "WSA without a store..."?

    Seems like saying, "We cancelled making cars because cars without steering wheels aren't useful." While the market is thinking, yes, but your car has a steering wheel...
    The Amazon store is only a fraction of the google store content and it leans heavily towards games and utility, less so towards productivity and services, where the real money lies.

    The comparison woukd be more like "we stopped making cars because the only insurance company refused to do business with our customers.

    In the Android world PLAY SERVICES (unlike PLAY) is a lock-in chokehold that idiological idiot regulators ignore instead of questioning. Imagine if DirectX were the only allowed way to access core Windows APIs, not just for games, but everything. No Vulkan, no Unreal, or any other middleware. You can replace the store, you can replace the browser, you can replace the maps, but replacing Play services is hard, expensive, and legally iffy.

    It's a nice choke point Google maintains.
    Reply
  • Sean Endicott
    GraniteStateColin said:
    I don't understand. The article quotes: "'...WSA without a store is awesome but doesn't help windows financially,' said Clinick."

    But it had a store, the Amazon store. Does this mean that Amazon pulled support of the store from Windows first, leaving WSA without a store, or that the Amazon store was not generating enough revenue for MS and so they decided it wasn't worth continuing to pay Amazon and provide internal support to maintain it? I suspect he must have meant the latter, but if so, then why say "WSA without a store..."?

    Seems like saying, "We cancelled making cars because cars without steering wheels aren't useful." While the market is thinking, yes, but your car has a steering wheel...
    The Amazon Appstore is so lackluster that it's almost unfair to compare it to the Google Play Store. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be "without a good store," but I didn't want to put words in the mouth of the Clinick. He has far more knowledge of it than me, so if he says WSA doesn't work financially, I believe him. But I do agree that the phrasing could have been more clear.
    Reply
  • GraniteStateColin
    Sean Endicott said:
    The Amazon Appstore is so lackluster that it's almost unfair to compare it to the Google Play Store. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be "without a good store," but I didn't want to put words in the mouth of the Clinick. He has far more knowledge of it than me, so if he says WSA doesn't work financially, I believe him. But I do agree that the phrasing could have been more clear.

    fjtorres5591 said:
    The Amazon store is only a fraction of the google store content and it leans heavily towards games and utility, less so towards productivity and services, where the real money lies.

    The comparison woukd be more like "we stopped making cars because the only insurance company refused to do business with our customers.

    In the Android world PLAY SERVICES (unlike PLAY) is a lock-in chokehold that idiological idiot regulators ignore instead of questioning. Imagine if DirectX were the only allowed way to access core Windows APIs, not just for games, but everything. No Vulkan, no Unreal, or any other middleware. You can replace the store, you can replace the browser, you can replace the maps, but replacing Play services is hard, expensive, and legally iffy.

    It's a nice choke point Google maintains.

    @Sean Endicott and @fjtorres5591 , I understand the differences between the two stores (and agree with @fjtorres5591 on the chokehold that gives Google on many of the apps). We develop for both of them. But that's not anything new, so that couldn't explain this current decision. MS started with the Amazon store and with no access to Google Play Services, so this can't come as a surprise to them. They knew the only Android apps they would have would be those in the Amazon Marketplace (and via sideloading, like we do for testing).

    Does anyone know what caused this new CHANGE? I'm trying to understand the sequence, the cause and effect. Which came first: MS dropping WSA, so then Amazon removed the Marketplace, or Amazon decided to remove the Marketplace from Windows, so MS decided that was the final straw without Google Play services and so then announced the end of WSA?
    Reply
  • john clove
    firstly, ive run android emulation on windows without a hiccup, using googles play store. no problem, but there are more than 2 app stores around so why can't microsoft partner with one of them... an android subsystem is a cracking idea they just need to make it easier to use and setup..
    Reply
  • grahamf
    I'm not too surprised. When i tried it, only apps from the Amazon Appstore could be installed and there didn't seem to be a clear way to "sideload" apps or other app stores onto it.

    Plus it kept on triggering my webcam/microphone and that was creepy as f***.
    Reply
  • ShinyProton
    The Amazon Store was even more useless than the Windows Store. That's a pretty dire situation that just precipitated the WSA toward the cliff.

    There was simply no point to have WSA without a decent Store. It was a technological curiosity at most. And without consumers, there are absolutely no reasons to keep this alive.

    In the end, the biggest loser remains Windows. Without any modern apps - the Store being pathetically empty - it is grappling for air. Luckily, gaming and offices can still maintain the OS alive because, consumers have been gone for long.
    Reply
  • TechFreak1
    Obviously Google was never going support this subsystem in Windows... did the execs forget the sheningans Google pulled with the Youtube app???

    The Subsystem for Android - had zero legs to begin with as due to their stranglehold on the Playstore.

    Sigh... it was so bleeding obvious.. what a waste of resources they really should have focused on Windows based mobile offering instead bringing that massive cut axe down.

    Fortunately, Microsoft does still have Windows on ARM and they cannot mess this one up. So, I hope beyond all hopes that Microsoft is doubling down on WoA. If they're going down the route of Webapps?...

    That's not going to cut it, many applications are not suited for webapps such as DAWs, production and professional editing software. You also can't have game development sdks as Webapps... the list is endless.

    Edit: Just read the upcoming Surface event article, apparently the Pro 10 will have a built-in NFC reader. That is a very curious add-on. Could be used for Merchant payments (payments made by customers in businesses i.e restaurants) and Digital wallets?

    Also the Surface Laptop has an ARM variant, maybe there is hope after all.
    Reply
  • GraniteStateColin
    ShinyProton said:
    The Amazon Store was even more useless than the Windows Store. That's a pretty dire situation that just precipitated the WSA toward the cliff.

    There was simply no point to have WSA without a decent Store. It was a technological curiosity at most. And without consumers, there are absolutely no reasons to keep this alive.

    In the end, the biggest loser remains Windows. Without any modern apps - the Store being pathetically empty - it is grappling for air. Luckily, gaming and offices can still maintain the OS alive because, consumers have been gone for long.

    Clearly, Google Play services would open up a lot more apps, but as long as Amazon is selling Kindle Fires (and to be fair, that market may have dropped), then there is a viable Amazon Marketplace. Kindle Fire runs loads of apps, and all only from the Amazon Marketplace.

    Sideloading onto WSA was also quite easy. It was a command line, but a single line with WSA running:
    adb install <app filename>.apk

    And that works for any app that runs on Android, as long as it's not dependent on Google Play Services.
    Reply